Brennan's Caribbean Milk Punch. Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Recipe: Brennan's Caribbean milk punch

1 serving

This indulgent and simple milk punch is of a style that dates to the early days of cocktailing; a version appears in Jerry Thomas's 19th century book. 

Brennan's, the luxurious restaurant in New Orleans, serves it as a brunch drink - a great idea when you don't need to do much for the rest of the day. But it's a nice option for after dinner as well - served in place of dessert.

The vanilla simple syrup can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

The vanilla simple syrup uses a scraped vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste. Many grocers carry whole vanilla beans, but spice stores such as Bazaar Spices and Penzeys may be a more reliable source for fresh whole beans (or vanilla bean paste).

Ingredients

Ice

30 ml dark rum 

15 bourbon

30 ml vanilla simple syrup (see note below)

30 ml heavy cream

Whole nutmeg, for a grated garnish

Method

Chill a cocktail coupe. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the rum, bourbon, vanilla simple syrup and cream. 

Seal and shake vigorously for 10 seconds, then strain into the glass. 

Grate a little nutmeg over the top of the drink and serve.

Note

To make the vanilla syrup, combine 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a saucepan over low heat. 

Split one vanilla bean open with a knife, then use the knife to scrape the seeds directly into the pan (may substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste; see headnote). 

Increase the heat to medium-high, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved and the vanilla bean is distributed. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. 

Cool completely before using or storing (in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks). The yield is about 2 1/2 cups.

Adapted from a recipe at Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans.

Golden Pineapple Spice Punch. Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Recipe: Golden Pineapple Spice Punch

15 servings 

This clarified punch seems like a modern bartenders' magic trick, but the technique it employs has been around for hundreds of years. 

It is not a difficult drink to make, but it does take time for the punch to rest and separate (it's not something you can whip up in a few hours). 

Ingredients

For the punch

2 cups brewed chai tea, such as Twinings brand

2 1/2 cups pineapple juice (preferably fresh; if using bottled, make sure it is unsweetened)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 or 4 fresh limes)

1/2 cup allspice dram

2 1/2 cups rum blend (a mix of good-quality light and dark rums is nice)

1/2 cup green Chartreuse

1/4 cup vanilla simple syrup (see headnote and NOTE)

1 teaspoon Angostura bitters

2 cups whole milk

Ice (large cubes or block of punch ice; see headnote)

For optional garnish

Thinly sliced citrus wheels

Thinly sliced fresh ginger root

Whole star anise

Fresh rosemary

Method

For the punch, stir together the brewed chai tea, pineapple juice, lime juice, allspice dram, rum, Chartreuse, vanilla simple syrup and bitters in a large bowl.

Pour the milk into a large pitcher, then gradually pour the punch mixture into the pitcher. 

Stir gently; the milk will begin to curdle and separate. That's okay. 

Transfer to the refrigerator to allow the curdling and separation to continue for at least 24 hours, and preferably 2 or 3 days (If you're in a rush, you can use more coffee filters and manually filter the milk-punch mixture, but the more time you allow, the less active work you'll have to do).

After 24 hours, you should see that the punch has separated significantly. 

There will likely be a layer of curds floating on top, but most of the milk solids should have settled at the bottom of the pitcher. 

Use a fine-mesh strainer to skim curds off the top (discard them), then gently pour the clarified "middle" of the punch into a large bowl. Try not to jiggle the bowl; doing so will disturb more of the milk solids and result in a less-clear punch.

At the bottom of the pitcher, you'll likely have a mix of milk curds and clear punch. 

Place a fine-mesh strainer or funnel above the large bowl, and line the strainer or funnel with a coffee filter, then ladle the last of what's in the pitcher into the strainer so the liquid drains into the bowl, capturing the solids in the coffee filter.

You will be left with a large bowl of punch (about 60 ounces). It will probably still be cloudy from the milk solids that haven't been strained out yet. 

This liquid can now be strained through the same coffee filter process described in the previous step. You'll likely use multiple coffee filters to finish it (as the solids collect in the filters, the filters become blocked - switch them out as needed until your punch is clear). 

Refrigerate the final clarified punch until you're ready to serve it.

For the optional garnishes: When ready to serve, put your punch ice and any garnishes into the punch bowl. Pour the clarified punch gently over the ice. Ladle into clear punch cups or cocktail (martini) glasses.

Note 

To make the vanilla syrup, combine 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a saucepan over low heat. 

Split one vanilla bean open with a knife, then use the knife to scrape the seeds directly into the pan (may substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste; see headnote). 

Increase the heat to medium-high, stirring to make sure the sugar has dissolved and the vanilla bean is distributed. 

Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat. 

Cool completely before using or storing (in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks). The yield is about 2 1/2 cups.

From Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.